Intell agencies ready to deal

After a long tradition of keeping its information and systems in the shadows, the federal intelligence community is ready to work with civilian agencies to improve the flow of homeland security-related information.

The Office of the Chief Information Officer for the U.S. intelligence community (www.cia.gov/ic) has taken an information architecture created for the intelligence community and adapted it to support communications with other agencies gathering homeland security intelligence, officials said at the Government Symposium on Information Sharing and Homeland Security, held in Philadelphia.

This architecture, developed across several years to support data sharing and collaboration among the many agencies working with top-secret or secret information, defines the system interfaces and policies needed for agencies to exchange information.

"The sharing demands have completely changed," said Dolly Greenwood, director of architecture and implementation in the CIO's office. With the architecture plans, "we can start to build things so they can be totally accessible."

Since Sept. 11, the intelligence community has become much more open to sharing information with nontraditional government users, particularly the federal, state and local law enforcement communities, said Winston Wiley, the CIA's associate director for homeland security.

In addition to work with classified intelligence, the intelligence community is doing what it can to produce sensitive but unclassified information that can be passed on to the larger homeland security community, he said.

The intelligence and law enforcement communities were already informally linked through a law enforcement working group, officials said. The 3-year-old organization, now in the final stages of becoming formally chartered, was established to enable the intelligence community to learn what kind of intelligence information law enforcement officials could use.

But now all of the communities are opening up to one another, which means that law enforcement, first responders and diplomatic officers on the front line are beginning to understand what resources are available from the intelligence community, said Kathleen Kiernan, chairwoman of the working group.

At the same time, the intelligence community now can contact hundreds of thousands of new intelligence gatherers, said Ken Piernick, senior director of the Office of Homeland Security's Intelligence and Detection Directorate.

The final architecture calls for three domains that, while remaining separate, are connected by trusted, controlled interfaces that will allow authorized information to pass back and forth, said William Dawson, deputy CIO for the intelligence community.

Intelink supports much of this homeland security architecture, said John Brantley, director of the Intelink Management Office. Intelink effectively serves as the intelligence community's intranet and provides collaboration applications, Web portals and directories for analysts around the world.

The Intelink Management Office is already working with the Defense Information Systems Agency to provide a secret version, Intelink-S, based on the Defense Department's Secret Internet Protocol Router Network, Brantley said.

The new network will be based on the old Open Source Information System, a secure virtual private network. It will connect DOD's NonClassified Internet Protocol Router Network, the FBI's Law Enforcement Online network, and the State Department's OpenNet, which will allow wider access to State's many visa information databases, he said.

"You keep your network, but you create a protected interface between your network and mine," said Dave McKee, deputy director of State's Intelligence Resources and Planning Office.

***

The power of three

The intelligence community's homeland security information architecture outlines three domains of information, each with its own rules and authorization levels:

* The top secret/secret compartmentalized information domain is for information and users at the highest classification level, primarily traditional intelligence agencies and organizations.

* The collateral information domain is for information and users at the secret level, which extends the community to portions of the Defense Department, the law enforcement community and other agencies.

* The sensitive but unclassified domain brings in nontraditional intelligence agencies and users identified under homeland security, such as the first responder community.

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